On March 23rd 1941, the King called millions to a Day of Prayer for the Nation and the Commonwealth – and we know that the Lord heard the cry that rose from the country, notwithstanding the years of suffering that were still to come. His ear is every bit as attentive to the multitude of prayers that are being raised to Him now, in our generation. Two thousand years ago, the disciples were caught in a frightening storm, whilst Jesus lay asleep in the boat.
There is no question that we are in the midst of an unparalleled global storm, with power not only to afflict our health and well-being, but also our economies, our education systems and the very structure of society. This is following. of course, so swiftly on the heels of the fires and floods the world has so recently experienced. It is going to be so important to pray for peoples mental as well as spiritual health and well being, as well as for the effect on people of being at unusually close quarters with each other over a prolonged period. Relationships really could take turns for the better or the worse, as they dramatically do over Christmas and on summer holidays. So let’s pray for as many as possible to go the right way!
But God has something powerful to accomplish through this.
Standing between the living and the dead
As the number of people being infected, particularly in Spain, continues to increase, as well as the virus arriving in yet more African countries and in India, and with New York being declared a disaster zone, it really is going to take a special effort for it to be defeated; indeed, we need a miracle of Biblical proportions.
With both the Bank of England and the American Federal Reserve digging in to pretty well their last reserves into trying to keep their respective economies afloat, the stakes are really high. A false move now could mean many years of trouble ahead. It goes without saying that we should be continuing to hold Boris Johnson and the government up in prayer, as well as Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, and their counterparts elsewhere in the word. It is never too early to be praying about the further measures that they may be contemplating: that they will be led more by the Lord than out of either fear or authoritarianism.
But God . . .
BUT GOD! What a powerful phrase that is!
Nicky Gumble reminded us recently of Aaron who, at Moses’s prompting during a plague, took a censor and filled it with incense. When he stood between the living and the dead the plague ended. (See Numbers 16:46-48 and context). Even so, 14,700 Israelites lost their lives – several thousand more than those who have died from Coronavirus to date in Europe.
How can the Lord can use us as His priests in this context? How can we love and serve our neighbour?
Lord, You have seen the world pass through every one of its many phases and stages: You are not daunted or deterred by what is going on now. You have watched as we choose to do something we could never have imagined doing: closing society down, with all its gaieties, and idolatries – and all its honest and honourable endeavours too. May there be many powerful testimonies that emerge from this time. Show Your mercy, Lord, to every single person affected, and bring to birth Your purposes in many hearts and lives.
Like so many, I am blessed by the thoughts Ann Voskamp posts on her website, and the insights she sows in all she writes. Being in isolation herself and away from close embrace of her family, I felt the ache of this passionate lover of God and people as I read her words. Yet she remains thankful, and reminds us to distance ourselves from fear and to strengthen our ‘gratitude muscle’.
How the world is benefitting from less polluting activity even for a few days! With every crisis there are always opportunities – but it would be naïve to assume that this time of sudden enforced seclusion will of itself necessarily lead to breakthrough in people’s lives – any more than to presume that every bout of persecution automatically serves to strengthen the Church.
Experience shows that, whilst this can sometimes be gloriously true, in many cases it can have precisely the opposite effect. Dear Father, all around the world, millions of people are being forced to consider their mortality, and that of those they love. Let many hearts open wide to receive the saving news of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Redeemer and Saviour – and may Your people be in place and prepared to lead many to You. Amen!
Thank the Lord for all the fellowships that have been trying out new technology live streaming their services. We participated on Sunday morning, for instance, with Ruth, our daughter, in the service that was being streamed from her church in Edinburgh. Delightful!
May there be no loss of necessary momentum forward at this time. Indeed we pray for an enrichment to occur through this. Already we are seeing many churches being stirred into action in entirely new ways, not just with everyone learning new streaming techniques, but also showing great initiative in mobilising to engage with the vulnerable in their communities. May the Lord bless each such initiative.
Turn eyes and hearts to you, Lord, as this shaking continues. Soften hard hearts, and reveal Jesus to many we pray. We pray too for relationships to be strengthened through this time of apparent isolation. Where there have been fractures, please be at work to help us all face up to the reality of what is at work in our hearts. Help each one determine to give no house room to resentment, and send Your Holy Spirit to empower us to walk in Your ways.
And Lord, we pray for the millions who are worried and having to make hefty adjustments to their lives. May You excel in finding ways through – especially where advice is sometimes contradictory or difficult to implement. Keep lines of communication open and turn us back from grasping selfishness.
Lord, please be at work powerfully for the good as we pass through this extremely severe squall. May we like Jesus and the dsiciples cross over safely to the far side, to the many new things You have awaiting, but also make the very most we can of this season.
In the name of the One who, far more than any other, looked out for the needs of others. Amen.
As ever, with our love in Jesus,
Robert and Ros